“What is the purpose of getting a first class education if not to serve others, to do something that positively impacts the world, to address those difficult problems that keep us from being our best selves and our best society?” asked Jackie Robinson Foundation President and CEO Della Britton Baeza as she addressed high school students at last week’s 6th Annual Princeton Prize in Race Relations Symposium.
Britton, a 1975 graduate of Princeton University, delivered the keynote address on the second day of the 2 ½ day conference created to identify and honor outstanding high school students who show leadership by improving race relations in their communities. Britton also recounted her years on the Princeton campus at a time when students self-segregated. “My guess is that no one has to explain to those in this room the ills of segregation and the importance of encouraging interaction and dialogue among those of different races," she told the crowd. "And I know that these projects you have engaged yourselves in not only require ingenuity, insight and hard work, but they require courage –the courage that many people twice and three times your age don’t have –including many of our adult leaders,” she observed.
Baltimore Region Prize Winner Evodie Ngoy told the audience of her difficulties adjusting to a new country when her family moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Maryland city in 2006. Ngoy produced a film chronicling her story with the hopes of empowering other young refugees coming to the U.S.
Commenting on the student presentations, Britton remarked, “It truly is in those moments when we are most uncomfortable that we can experience the greatest growth both individually and collectively.”
The symposium also included Princeton students, alumni and faculty.